YAY the Gophers return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. This is all fresh news but here are my initial observations.
- I'm thrilled that we are playing on Friday. This really only matters to me who will be out of town and traveling on Thursday.
- I'm happy we are playing in Austin, Texas. I expect to see Rencito, TexasGopher and the other Lone Star State natives in attendance. I might have a fabulous prize for whoever gets a TDG sign or T-shirt on camera.
- UCLA is the opponent, let's talk about them for a bit. My first thought is harkening back to the Regional championship game played against UCLA in 1997. That was one of my favorite Gopher games I've every watched.
Ken Pom numbers! (KenPom is crashing at the moment, I'll update when their servers are back up and running)
|KenPom Efficiency Stats||Minnesota (23)
|Pnt / Poss||1.126 (26)||1.104 (38)
|Def Pnt / Poss||0.922 (42)||0.943
|Off Reb %||44.3% (1)||30.2%
|Def Reb %||66.8%||66.0% (267)
|TO %||21.7% (266)||15.7% (6)
- Outside of their own conference UCLA does not have a ton of good wins. They beat Missouri (RPI 35) and Indiana St (72), no other non-conference wins are inside the top 100.
- What they did do to win the Pac-12 is complete a 3-game sweep over Arizona. It was that 2-game regular season sweep that earned them the regular season title by 1 game over the Wildcats.
- The Bruins are led by Shabazz Muhammad, who was the #1 recruit in the country last year. The 6-6, G/F is averaging 17.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He hit 40% from three and was the conference's co-freshman of the year.
- But Muhammad isn't their only player. Larry Drew (transfer from North Carolina) was also 1st team All-Pac-12. Kyle Anderson earned 2nd team honors and was on the All-Freshman team. And I haven't included anything about the team's #2 and #3 scorers,
Jordan Adamsinjured (15.3) and Travis Wear (11.2).
- Up next if we manage to get by UCLA? Likely #3 Florida. The Gators won the regular season title of the SEC, which was really down this year. They absolutely decimated Marquette and Wisconsin back in November and are obviously a talented team.
- If we managed to get to the 2nd weekend the opponent would likely be Georgetown. A very good Big East team that is traditionally known as a very good defensive team. They are led by Otto Porter Jr. who is an incredible ball player. He averages 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He is a 6-8 big man who shoots 42.7% from three. Would be an interesting match-up for the Gophers.
MORE THOUGHTS (UPDATED)
- The Gopher's first three NIT opponents last year are all in the NCAA Tournament. LaSalle (13), Miami (2) and Middle Tennessee St (11). Obviously the Gophers won all three of those games and all three were on the road. Amazing to think how well we were playing and we beat those talented teams in their own buildings.
- The last time the Gophers won an NCAA Tournament game was over UCLA in the 1997 regional final. Hard to believe we haven't won even one game since then.
More to come throughout the week. Talk amongst yourselves.